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No. 8, July 2000
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João Gilberto
Biography and album 
João voz e violão

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João Gilbe do Prado de Oliveira was born in Juazeiro (Bahia, Brazil) in 1931, into a musical family. From an early age on, he was only interested in music and listened to traditional Brazilian sounds as well as American jazz by Gerry Mulligan, Duke Ellington and others. As a teenager, he played drums in a local band in Juazeiro. Later, he taught himself guitar. At the age of eighteen, he moved to Salvador de Bahia and became part of the vocal group Garotos da Lua. In 1950, Gilberto joined another group in Rio de Janeiro for one year. They sent him away for his unprofessional attitude and, for the next years, he had a hard time.
 
Gilberto became chronically depressed and marijuana addicted. His girlfriend (later famous bossa nova singer) Sylvia Telles left him. Among his friends was Tom Jobim. In 1955, Gilberto moved to Porto Alegre where he re-established himself and became a popular local musician. About half a year later, he moved again, this time to his sister Dadainha. According to the legend, it was in her bathroom that he developed his distinctive intimate singing style.
 
Gilberto went back to Rio de Janeiro in 1956. He soon started to work with Antonio Carlos Jobim who had a job as an arranger and producer and developed a new style based on samba. In 1957, Gilberto interpreted Jobim's Desafinando and, in 1958, followed Bim-bam and Chega de Saudade, which marked the beginning of bossa nova.
 
In 1961, the American guitarist Charlie Byrd came to Brazil on a jazz tour organized by the U.S. State Department. He immediately fell in love with the music of Jobim and Gilberto and introduced his friend, saxophonist Stan Getz, to the new sound. Getz and Byrd brought the bossa nova back to America where they released the album Jazz Samba in 1962, which became a huge success. The bossa nova-craze began to take off. The 1963-album Getz/Gilberto made João a worldwide-known figure. However, the sensation on the album was Gilberto's wife Astrud with the tune The Girl From Ipanema. The single, a shortened version of the album, became a hit in 1964. The bossa nova-craze produced brilliant and less tasteful music. All major musicians paid their tribute to the new, hot style from Brazil - which did not last very long, but produced some great classics of popular music.
 
João voz e violão is a quiet album, the first ever João Gilberto recorded without accompanying musicians. He presents himself alone, as the album's title says, only with his voice and guitar, which he plays in his distinctive, syncopated style. The result is an intimate atmosphere and classic tunes which appear in a new light. He interprets songs written by Caetano Veloso (Desde que o Samba É Samba), Tom Jobim (Você Vai Ver), Gilberto Gil (Eu Vim de Bahia) and others. Among the highlights are his interpretations of Não Vou pra Casa (Antonio Almeida/Roberto Roberti), Desafinado (Tom Jobim/Newton Mendonça) and Chega de Saudade (Tom Jobim/Vinícius de Moraes). Among the less convincing versions are Coraçao Vagabundo (Caetano Veloso) and Da Cor do Pecado (Bororó). João Gilberto has delivered a marvelous album for attentive listeners, produced by Caetano Veloso.

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 8, July 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.